6 Mins Read
The world of gambling is a fast moving and dynamic industry, and in this edition of the PokerGuru Gaming report, we look into some of the recent major happenings.
Gambling machines seems to have hit a rough patch in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) and may be on the brink of being banned after the Northern Beaches Council extended their support towards reducing and removing the machines.
Thai authorities, on the other hand, seem to have the upper hand against an illegal online casino, Slot555.com, as the cops not only managed to shut down the operations of the site, but also arrested 11 people.
Meanwhile, Caesars Entertainment is trying very hard to attain a license to set up a resort in the newly approved Japanese integrated resort (IR) market with its “100 Year Partnership for Japan” campaign.
On the down side, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling has now claimed, via former Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, at a House subcommittee meeting that online poker should be banned because it violates states’ rights, while chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission Stephen Crosby shockingly resigned from his post on September 26.
Gambling hasn’t found much support with the legislative body of New South Wales (NSW). In fact, not only is NSW trying to reduce the amount of gambling machines within the state but plans to ban them completely. Very recently it has found more support from the Northern Beaches Council who have approved a plan to reduce the number of machines and is now calling on the NSW government to do the same.
In a meeting that took place on September 25 the council discussed a measure that would see a reduction in the gambling activity. Upon taking a vote, the plan was passed 8-6, making the Northern Beaches the second municipality to adopt such a policy.
The policy came about after the suicide of Gary Van Duinen, who according to his parents, took his own life due to his gambling addiction. Joy Van Duinen, Gary’s mother, spearheaded the push to implement the policy which will include restricting the amount of money that can be withdrawn from ATMs, reducing playtime on gambling machines every time a button is pressed and changes to self-exclusion laws to allow a family member to opt out on behalf of a gambler
Northern Beaches Councilor Pat Daley stated, “This is a real milestone for local government. We want to work very closely with the pubs and clubs, not against them, and incorporated into this policy is ongoing consultation and regular meetings.”
Talking about the policy change, director of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Tim Costello, said, “The NSW coalition government has capitulated to the gambling industry for the past eight years and now is the time for Premier Gladys Berejiklian to promise she won’t sign another four-year memorandum of understanding with Clubs NSW.”
The Slot555.com online casino was shut down by the law enforcement authorities of Thailand on September 25. The closure of the illegal online casino site whose operations were spread across four provinces also resulted in the arrest of 11 individuals, including the alleged ringleader Wasan Kaosa-art, who is now looking at the possibility of spending an eternity behind bars in this extremely gambling-phobic country.
Led by Pol Maj Gen Surachate Hapkarn, the officers of the Huai Khwang Police Station completed the operation. Hapkarn said, “Wasan ran the gambling site from a server based in Bangkok’s Bueng Kum district. Some Thai media reports referenced a ‘network’ of multiple gambling sites, although Slot555 was the only domain name cited.”
It has been alleged that the site had more than 10,000 customers who lost BHT103m (US$3.2m) on its games. The money was funnelled through multiple bank accounts listed under the names of the members of Wasan’s family in areas outside Bangkok.
Money was transferred in and out of these accounts by a programmer named Chatchai Saengkaew, who Wasan hired to design the Slot555 website and handle the ring’s technical details. The site was promoted on Thai social media channels and often used photos of popular actresses to attract the interest of potential customers.
Wasan and his partners in crime are facing charges of illegal gambling, money laundering and conspiracy.
The “100 Year Partnership for Japan” campaign has recently been introduced by the casino giant Caesars Entertainment. With an intent to attain a license to set up a resort in the newly approved Japanese integrated resort (IR) market, the campaign aims to set apart Caesars from the plethora of companies who are also vying for the license.
As part of its campaign, Caesars has included a number of announcements tied to initiatives in the country which are concept imagines of an IR that could be located at the Yamashita Pier in Yokohama. Based on The Great Wave which is an ukiyo-e piece crafted by Japanese artist Hokusai, the IR would carry the name “The Yokohama Art & Culture Park and Entertainment Resort”.
However, this concept has faced some strong opposition from the chairman of the Yokohama Transport Association (YTA) Yukio Fujuki and Yokohama citizens who have already overwhelmingly said that they opposed an IR.
The casino operator has also designed an innovative casino entry system exclusively for use in Japanese IRs and has already spent around $223,000 on responsible gaming initiatives in the country.
The Sheldon Adelson-backed Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling on September 27 claimed at a House subcommittee meeting that online poker should be banned because it violates states’ rights.
The meeting was to discuss sports betting in the wake of the Supreme Court’s May decision that overturned a law that banned the activity outside of a few states. While there is a demand for new federal mandates from sports leagues, the casino industry hints it can continue to effectively regulate itself. The casino industry estimates that Americans bet $150 billion each year on sports, with 97 percent coming through illicit channels historically.
However, state regulation of sports betting obviously has an online component, which has become the target of Adelson’s lobbying group and the groups has been seeeking to restore the 1961 Wire Act.
Representing the coalition at the hearing was former Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, who in a testimony to the subcommittee stated, “[L]et’s not forget the rights of states in which marijuana is illegal. Since marijuana was legalized in Colorado, Nebraska law enforcement has been overwhelmed with the amount of illegal marijuana flooding into the state […] As Attorney General, I filed an original action against Colorado in the U.S. Supreme Court asking the Court to declare Colorado’s marijuana laws violated the U.S. Constitution. But the Supreme Court refused to take our case. And to this day, Nebraskans continue to suffer from Colorado’s legalization of marijuana with no legal recourse.”
Bruning compared the regulation of online casino gaming, including poker, with the regulation of marijuana. Bruning said both are unconstitutional.
He further claimed that the “same harm will come to Nebraska” when states legalize online sports betting. “Nebraska will be compelled to rely on the good graces, and regulatory capabilities, of those states that have legalized online sports betting,” he said.
Nonetheless, Bruning said nothing about the effectiveness of the state-of-the-art geo-location technology. There have been no scandals involving online casino gaming and the location of the player in the years since Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, and recently Pennsylvania, legalized online casino-style games. A handful of other states have online lottery games, which Bruning mentioned.
In a shocking turn of events, Stephen Crosby tendered his resignation as chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on September 26.
Crosby announced his departure citing accusations of historical bias and prejudging the outcome of the ongoing Wynn Resorts suitability investigation, in a letter addressed to his fellow commissioners.
“With a profound sense of sadness, regret—and yes, frustration—I am resigning as Chair of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, in order to give you the best possible opportunity to do your work without distraction. And I leave the leadership of this organization in the very capable hands of your four Commissioners.”=
The letter further stated: “On September 17, 2018, I received a letter from a lawyer for Steve Wynn insisting that I had already made up my mind against Steve Wynn regarding the allegations of sexual misconduct. On September 25, 2018, our counsel received a letter from counsel to Mohegan Sun, which has sued the Commission over the award of the Region A license to Wynn, insisting that I had already made up my mind in favor of Wynn Resorts in the suitability investigations. It was about four years ago that the Gaming Commission was battered by lawsuits and accusations of bias in the matter of the Region A licensing process. I was often at the center of these lawsuits and accusations.”
This sudden resignation has forced the MGC to move forward with only four commissioners, with Commissioner Gayle Cameron serving as interim chair until a permanent replacement is appointed.
Crosby was the MGC’s first and only chairman, having been appointed to the position by Gov. Deval Patrick in December 2011. His term was set to expire in 2019. His legacy as MGC chair is full of a long list of accomplishments and achievements. Being a staunch advocate of legalized online gambling and fluid regulatory policies to deal with emerging technologies, Crosby was considered by many as a supporter of responsible gaming.